PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The past few weeks, beaches on Palm Beach have been closed off and on because of schools of sharks swimming close to shore.
It's shark migration season and just like the part-time residents on the island, these snowbirds of the sea are heading back north.....and trust me -- they're getting lots of attention from curious on-lookers!
“One of them was like surfing the waves, and another one was jumping out of the water and twirled and I couldn’t believe it 30 feet away from people!" said one beach visitor.
Just take a look at the amazing Chopper 5 video above, you can see thousands of sharks swarming close to shore. These predators also enjoy their time in South Florida this time of year.
Grant Gilmore, Ph.D. from Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science, Inc . has been studying sharks in Florida for over 40 years. “This is a major route for their migration. It’s just like we use I-95 to come down from New England, the sharks are doing the same thing along the coast here.”
And when they come close like they did today, Ocean Rescue has to act.
Mark Hassell of Palm Beach Ocean Rescue said, “It gets to a point where we have enough activity that it's in the interest to the public to go ahead and close the beaches for swimming.”
Last year’s shark attack on kite-surfer Stephen Schafer is still fresh on a lot of people’s minds, even though Schafer’s death was from the more aggressive bull shark, people still wonder just how dangerous these are?
Gilmore says, “The spinner, black tip and sandbar shark our most common in shore sharks are not considered dangerous sharks."
He continues "These sharks are actually after small fish and that’s it. if they happen to hit the hand or foot of a surfer, they’re going to let go right away. They aren’t going to pull the surfer off the board and eat him. That doesn’t happen in Florida."
If your swimming in the ocean, Gilmore recommends: "If you see a shark, don’t panic and flail around, just ease yourself in. They not interested in you anyway."
Gilmore also suggests to avoid being mistaken for their food, avoid their feeding times which is early morning and late evening. Also stay away from any schools of fish.
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